U-CAN Report: September 2008

The name of the game is frustration. Residents in Brigham City are eager to see UTOPIA get deployed, but they’re a bit sour on the Real Soon Now(TM) deployment date, one they’ve heard and seen missed before. Many aren’t going to wait around forever, instead going for cable modem, DSL and even wireless or cellular connections to sate their high-speed cravings. Some have even gone so far as to use ISDN to move away from dial-up connections.

The problem is the uncertainty. Without certainty of a specific date and location of deployment, residents are willing to sign lengthy contracts with existing providers instead of holding out for UTOPIA service sometime in the future. I’m personally confident that Brigham and neighboring Perry will see the first homes and businesses lit by year’s end. That means little to residents that want to support UTOPIA but feel as if they have been left in the dark for far too long. There’s also still lingering questions on what the install fees will be, if any. Qwest and Comcast hammered UTOPIA on the possibility and that leaves residents spooked.

Still, it’s encouraging to see that residents are supportive of UTOPIA and are eager to see it come to town. What it will take now is walking the walk, hooking up services to subscribers, in order to win over the city.

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18 Responses to U-CAN Report: September 2008

  1. Capt. Video says:

    Seems like these are not new issues. They are things we have discussed on this list…many times!

    UTOPIA’s failure to communicate construction info?

    UTOPIA’s failure to share their plan for install fees?

    September ended with no significant new installs for UTOPIA. As each day goes by with no significant number of installs is more that are needed the following days.

    It sounds like you might expect October and November to also have no real install activity….not good news for the number.

  2. u235sentinel says:


    It’s difficult when I’m speaking with the Senators and Representatives in the State Capitol about it. I of course mention that it’s pretty damn difficult when these companies keep suing Utopia but from the sounds of it the Judge tossed it out and they won’t be coming back with any further lawsuits.

    Guess we’ll see on that front.

    As for the construction, the West Jordan city council is waiting for Utopia to meet any of their promises whether it’s finances or construction. They see another iProvo brewing despite the differences.

    If Utopia could be more forthcoming and meet some of their milestones it would go a long way when I meet with these people.

    Speaking of which, I’m spending some time writing letters with Senators/Representatives in the Fed about the problem of the Internet. I”m at the point now where I’m most likely to vote for anyone who’s not running for the Republicans or Democrats unless they change their party stance on the Internet.

    Non interference has brought us these problems while other countries are now making the Internet a basic service along with water, power and electricity.

    At this rate I may move to Europe 🙂

  3. Bob Hansen says:

    Is there a link to the U-CAN report? For that matter, is there a canonical source for annual and/or quarterly reports from UTOPIA? I’d like to look at some of the numbers, and haven’t been able to find the information from some non-trivial Googling about.

  4. luminous says:

    if you want that you will have to file a GRAMA request, though about filing myself but haven’t gotten around to it yet, maybe after midterms at college are over.

  5. Capt. Video says:

    Official numbers are as rare as hen’s teeth.
    The best I’ve found are actually from the Utah Taxpayers Association report on the UTOPIA audit that was done last year.

    Some city council minutes also contain a bit of useful information here and there. I too have done considerable Googling.

    I’m not sure a GRAMA request would get you what you want either. I suspect UTOPIA would fight to keep their “Secret Society” secret. Claiming reporting numbers would put them at a competitive disadvantage (and reporting some info would do so), but not everything they have elected not to share with the public.

    I have likely been their most vocal critic of them failing to share information. Set goals and report progress toward those goals.

    I am amazed that no official representative from one of the cities with tens of millions at risk has pressed the point.

    In the past the cities did not provide proper oversight and some were shocked to find UTOPIA had spent much more and gotten much less that expected. In my opinion to give them even more money without increasing the level of public scrutiny is very poor management of the project.

  6. luminous says:

    I really am not worried about weather or not utopia will be able to pay their bond payments(i don’t think they will pull it off). I am worried about weather of not they are going to get all the fiber turned on in the city’s where they starting laying it out but never finished, Layton is going to be out 55million dollars(more with bond interest) and not have a single strand of lite fiber to show for it. I hear that they are spending a couple hundred installs worth of money on some sort of advertisement bus!?!? record keeping has been so poor they had to send personal out to phase 2 city’s to figure out where they actually had conduit and fiber already pulled, they just layed off several workers, and we still have no solid information on what is going on.

  7. Dave says:

    I have seen UTOPIA trucks down the street from my place of employment recently. We have had fiber in front of our office for a year and a half now. I can’t wait to start giving our money to UTOPIA in lieu of Qwest. I hope that the trucks are an indication that we will one day soon be able to sign up.

  8. Dave says:

    Recently saw an UTOPIA Motor home parked on the street. Is this the enrollment bus spoken of? It was a really nice motor home. Probably around $400,000. Its nice to see our cities money being spent so wisely.

  9. u235sentinel says:

    $400,000 huh. Well I guess Utopia must be doing better than I thought.

    And $400,000 for an enrollment bus is a bargain. Look at what the Government does with our money. Everyone gets a bailout. Hell, where’s my bailout? I’d put it in my bank account or pay off my home. If people did that then we’d solve the banking or mortgage problems our country has.

    But I digress.

  10. Capt. Video says:

    It appears some positive things are going on with UTOPIA.

    I’ve heard….

    Friday is the ribbon cutting in Brigham City. Does that mean service is available there starting Friday? I wonder if the new UTOPIA Motor Home will be there….seems likely it would be at a ribbon cutting. (In Provo we did them as “fiber splicings” rather than ribbon cuttings….lol)

    Also heard a new city is joining (or considering joining) UTOPIA. Something I never expected to happen, at least not a pledging city. But a city joining as non-pledging is still good.

    They will also soon announce a new triple play service provider. (Perhaps in a week or two?)

    …and it should not be too long before the Avail Video Headend is operational? It will be interesting to see how UTOPIA works around them not being a service provider if they end up as the entity with the content licenses.

    All in all sounds like positive things are happening. Anyone hear anything about any of this?

  11. Jesse says:

    I’ve heard most of that except for the new member city bit. Any word as to who it is?

  12. Dave says:

    We received a postcard inviting us to the “Open House”. It states that the UTOPIA Mobile Command Center will be there. I assume this to be the motor home. It also states that “UTOPIA representatives will be in attendance to answer questions and sign you up for UTOPIA services.”

    I’ll be there on Friday.

  13. Capt. Video says:

    I’ll correct my post about the headend being up soon. I heard that there are some delays in getting all the programming licenses and the headend will not be up in March as planned. They are now targeting May.

    Oddly enough, UTOPIA’s only current video provider Mstar, already has licensing for any channel they could want to add with almost 300 channels under license. Go Figure?

  14. Jesse says:

    Well… that’s because licenses have been hard to come by lately. I imagine that the system they plan to use (wholesale the service to the SPs) also makes it a lot more complicated.

  15. Capt. Video says:

    Yes…I surely did not mean to imply that was unusual. Getting content licensing can be very difficult and take longer than expected.

    Getting licensing you are talking about would be very, very difficult. (Near impossible, but a few companies have done it or something like it.)

    We will have to see if UTOPIA gets licenses to sub-license or distribute content or if they do more of what Provo did and actually become the service provider of record for the video and the service providers contract with them to manage the iProvo video customers. (Which I think puts you at odds with the state law on being a service provider but is less of an issue with the programmers.)

    The real shame is UTOPIA ignored a number of opportunities to re-negotiate the headend contract they had with iProvo when asked to. Had they done so, they would have had a much lower rate and a longer term on the contract. Avoiding any problems with with Broadweave over the headend and saving perhaps $100k or more they have spent since those offers were made?

    Someone’s poor judgment cost them.

  16. Jesse says:

    UTOPIA’s early experiences with Broadweave quickly soured that relationship and they did not feel it would be in their best interests to have a relationship with the company. There’s also the matter of the acrimony between Broadweave and Mstar plus the failed merger with Nuvont that could have made things awkward. Would you do business with a company you didn’t fully trust?

  17. Capt. Video says:

    My point was that if they had re-done the contract with iProvo before the sale, when they had the opportunity. Those deals would be binding upon Broadweave and they would not have to done business or made a deal with Broadweave.

    Since they elected not to re-do the deal with iProvo (and both lower the rate and extend the contract), the rate was very high and the term was very short. Forcing them to either make a NEW deal with Broadweave or go to someone like CSI Digital/Avail to put it their own headend…and pay the higher original Provo rate all the while.

  18. Jesse says:

    Gotcha. That makes more sense.

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